Heritage, Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 1993 Page: 13
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early 1930s when the 43rd Texas Legislature
passed the Rural Aid Appropriation
Act, which allotted $6 million for tuition
funding to accredited high schools accepting
out-of-district students.3 Most rural and
small town Texas schools, however, were
just struggling to keep their doors open and
were unable to significantly upgrade or
reorganize their buildings and curricula.
They would need assistance from the Works
President Roosevelt established the
Works Progress Administration in 1935.
Headed by Harry Hopkins, the agency
employed as many people as possible in
small local units on public property
projects. In July 1939, the WPA was reorganized
and renamed with a title that
more accurately reflected its purpose:
Work Projects Administration.4 Before a
project proposal could be sent to Washington,
it had to receive the approval of
the state administrator, H. P. Drought,
who served as the Texas WPA administrator
until the agency folded in February
1943.5 In a 1939 overview of his agency,
Drought informed the public that the
WPA had approved 6,703 projects in
Texas with a total cost of $113,285,000.
Of that total, $85,164,000 came from the
Federal treasury and the rest of the funds,
$28,121,000, were contributed by local
authorities. The total amount included
$9,300,000 spent on gymnasiums, auditoriums,
Texas was not alone in a strong school
building program. By December of 1940,
the WPA had given $227,500,000 nationally
for school building construction and
repairs.7 Of the 38 categories of the Work
Projects Administration, school-related
projects ranked second only to the construction,
repair, or improvement of farmto-market
roads projects. 8
WPA files in the National Archives
from 1935-37 show requests mostly for the
improvement and betterment of star mail
and school bus routes.9 Central Texas'
Eastland County, however, seemed to be an
exception when in 1935 it requested school
improvement money for each of its common
school districts. Significantly, later records
indicate that each of these project orders
were rescinded, and instead, the county re
quested and received project money only for
new buildings, expansions, or improvements
to the targeted centralized schools.
Eastland County was an excellent example
of how WPA funds were used as an
incentive to encourage the central school
concept. This county was also typical of
the 254 Texas counties documented in a
State Board of Education study entitled A
Report of the Adequacy of Texas Schools.
This 1937 volume contains educational
statistics and data compiled by professional
and service workers of the WPA.
However, the primary function of the
study was to analyze each county and to
propose a master plan containing "attendance
zone schools" that would lead to
the consolidation and elimination of the
small common school districts.
From 1938 through 1941, the WPA
gave massive assistance to Texas for such
school projects as classroom buildings, auditoriums,
band halls, vocational and agricultural
buildings, cafeterias, and home
economics cottages either as new structures
or as additions to existing ones. Not only
minds but young bodies benefited as well
In 1940, the smart art deco look of the palatial new WPA-consolidated high school in Clifton evoked pride in every citizen. According to the pages of the Clifton
Record, its construction represented the realization of a dream. At its dedication, former Governor Pat Neff declared "More sparkling than rubies, more valuable than
fine gold are knowledge, wisdom, and understanding."
HERITAGE * FALL 1993 13
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 1993, periodical, Autumn 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45417/m1/13/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.